The University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

The University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) is celebrating its 20th anniversary. CHHS Founder and Director Michael Greenberger, JD, released the following statement commemorating the occasion: 

May 15, 2022: The University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

A Message from CHHS Founder and Director, Michael Greenberger

When we opened our doors on May 15, 2002, we had a single employee (me) and the endorsement and startup funds from the then-President of the University of Maryland Baltimore, Dr. David Ramsay.  Today, we have a professional staff of over 30 and we are working on countless public health, emergency management, cybersecurity, and disaster preparedness projects worldwide. In addition to our client projects, CHHS staff is teaching courses, in conjunction with Maryland Carey Law School, in four graduate school programs on crisis management and cybersecurity.

The initial motivation to establish the Center came from the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and our early focus was almost exclusively counterterrorism. However, as time went on, and especially after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, our mission expanded to dealing with “all-hazards” emergency responses.  That is, while we still deal with terrorism-related preparedness and response, our work now also includes assisting state and local agencies, federal departments, foreign countries, public and private hospitals and universities on emergency planning and response. These efforts include the ability to prepare for and respond to catastrophic adverse weather events (e.g., Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Irma and Superstorm Sandy); deadly infectious disease outbreaks (e.g., Zika and Ebola); and cybersecurity threats.

Of course, nothing has compared to our present work in responding to COVID-19, which has been of primary concern these last two plus years. Beginning in February 2020, our clients began to ask us to supplement our existing emergency management work to address the pandemic. In so doing, our staff has worked tirelessly with client leadership to write and implement plans and operating procedures to provide emergency public health services nationwide.  We helped collect and distribute personal protective equipment and COVID-19 tests.  We helped organize and run COVID-19 vaccine clinics. We developed and helped implement plans and distribution centers to fight unprecedented food insecurity challenges among our clients’ constituents. We assisted school systems in navigating the change from in-person to remote learning. We provided policy and legal guidance to organizations as they had to make decisions in real-time regarding evolving CDC best practices. This tremendous and ongoing effort has been one of the Center’s greatest challenges and finest accomplishments.

In addition to our client work, CHHS has grown our academic footprint over the last 20 years. In partnership with the Maryland Carey Law School, we are teaching 25 courses in four graduate degree programs. For JD students and law graduates at Maryland Carey Law, we offer a Cybersecurity/Homeland Security Certificate and courses in a Masters of Law (LLM) degree program. Since 2016, we have had nearly 70 students complete the JD certificate and another 35 currently pursuing it. CHHS also spearheads the online Cyber and Crisis Management tracks of the Masters of Science in Law (MSL) degree program. Since the program’s inception in 2015, more than 130 students have earned their MSL in Cyber and Crisis Management.

Additionally, CHHS has had the honor of expanding our expertise to programs offered at the University of Maryland College Park.  Through a Law School partnership, CHHS developed and teaches two courses in the Master in Professional Studies (MPS) in Public Safety Leadership & Administration offered through the University of Maryland’s Office of Extended Studies. CHHS also teaches courses to undergraduate students in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences as part of the MLAW program, designed to increase collaboration between the two campuses.  We are immensely proud of these academic programs and the opportunities they provide for the next generation of professionals in this field.

In light of current COVID-19 case numbers, we are postponing official celebrations, but we hope to mark this important milestone for CHHS in the Fall of 2022 with an in-person event. In the meantime, please take a look at some of our Center’s background and program highlights in the attached slides.

Michael Greenberger, JD

Founder and Director

 

For more information on the Center, and its current work, please see the accompanying slide deck.

CHHS Slides 20th Anniversary

CHHS To Participate in Grant-Funded MPOWER Study on Antiterrorism Laws

The University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS), under the leadership of Academic Program Director Michael Vesely, JD, who has been awarded an MPower grant in conjunction with START’s Dr. Michael Jensen. Over the next year CHHS and START will study the efficacy of current antiterrorism laws and evaluate whether additional legislation is needed. For more, visit:  http://mpower.maryland.edu

Who is the WHO?

By CHHS Extern Meghan Howie

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, public entities which the public had previously rarely heard became commonplace. One of these is the World Health Organization. The WHO’s role in public health emergencies is commonly discussed- pulling together a global network of experts and governments to provide guidance and resources to address the situation at hand. Given its central position in the COVID-19 pandemic response, it is important to understand not only its many functions in other efforts but also key pieces of context for its efforts.

This international body connects nations, partners, and people to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. They were established under the 1948 Constitution. Through a UN body called the International Health Conference in 1946. Some of the 61 initial signatories include China, the US, the UK, Venezuela, Ukraine, Switzerland, Turkey, South Africa, etc. Notably, the WHO was not meant to be housed under the UN. The body exists as its own international organization, and 10 of its original signatories were not UN members.

The WHO has grown since its inception. The principal organs are the World Health Assembly, the Executive Board, and the secretariat. Their governing body, the WHA, is a gathering of delegates from all 194 current member states. This assembly determines policy, budgeting, and administrative actions. The Executive Board is made up of individuals “technically qualified in the field of health” from 32 elected member countries. The WHO constitution authorizes the board “to take emergency measures within the functions and financial resources of the Organization to deal with events requiring immediate action. In particular, it may authorize the director-general to take the necessary steps to combat epidemics and to participate in the organization of health relief to victims of a calamity.” The secretariat, headed by the director-general, is responsible for technical and administrative personnel of the WHO. It also coordinates the efforts of localized branches. Much of the on-the-ground work done by the WHO is decentralized aside from coordination coming from the secretariat.

In addition to participating in the assembly and other leadership positions, member states are responsible for funding the organization. Funding is calculated by taking a percentage of GDP from each member state. Voluntary funds may be contributed above that value by nations. Outside partners may also donate voluntarily. According to 2021 funding spreadsheets published by the WHO, the United States has contributed 22% of the annual budget in 2019-2021. Other significant contributors include the United Kingdom (4.56%), Japan (8.56%), Italy (3.3%), Germany (6.09%), and France (4.43%). The total budgetary contributions of member states totaled 977.9 million USD for 2020-2021.

As for the mission areas of the organization, the WHO is involved in emergency management as well as promotion of access to healthcare for all. This takes on many forms. In times of peace, WHO leads efforts to expand universal healthcare and promote healthier lives. They focus on globalized efforts to address social determinants of health outcomes and expansion of healthcare resources in developing nations. (INCLUDE PROGRAMS AND NATIONS) They are continuously monitoring high-impact communicable diseases which do not constantly make the headlines. The ultimate goal is eradication of such diseases. Through broad data collection, the WHO is a resource for understanding the big picture of the world’s health.

In emergencies, the WHO provides a centralized voice of experts around the world outside of state governments. By uniting scientists in a formalized community, nations are provided with learned guidance on the situation and scientific advances are disseminated more quickly. All of this increases efficiency in emergency responses and improves scientific backing in public health policies as related to a constantly evolving global pandemic. Developing nations are also able to find support in creating healthcare policies to respond to unique circumstances. The organization’s role is unifying global efforts in public health and providing resources to nations that request assistance.

One unfortunate reality of entities which rely on funding from certain more centralized sources, like the WHO, is the risk of politicization of their efforts. The risk was laid bare in the Trump administration’s decision to cut US funding to the WHO in April of 2020. No matter the factual background of this decision, the impact of cutting over 20% of the organization’s budget in the beginning stages of a global pandemic left a mark on the policies. Through these circumstances the WHO can be buffeted by the storms of international political discourse.

So, as the world becomes aware of an international organization which provides so much information to the COVID-19 response, it is important to maintain a balanced perspective in interpreting the information coming from the WHO. No organization can completely rid itself of outside influence and bias. The centralization of expert discourse and collaboration among nations is an amazing feat of international cooperation which should not be discounted. However, the influence of powerful nations, as in any international body, must not be underestimated. No matter the source of scientific information, it is important to be informed of the outside biases implicated in publications and press conferences.

Supreme Court Blocks Vaccine Mandate: An Issue of Institutional Competence

By CHHS Extern Jenna Newman

On September 9th, 2021, President Biden first announced the creation of a plan that would require a large number of Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) then published the aforementioned vaccine mandate on November 5. The OSHA mandate required workers employed by businesses with at least 100 employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with an exception only allowed for workers who were tested weekly at their own expense and wore a mask each day. The mandate also pre-empted contrary state laws. On January 13, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed OSHA’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The majority on the Court explained that because this order required 84 million Americans to either receive the COVID-19 vaccine or take weekly tests at their own expense, it was not an “everyday exercise of federal power.” The Court further noted that OSHA is tasked with ensuring occupational safety, which includes “safe and healthy working conditions.” The justices speaking for the majority found that this mandate did not set workplace safety standards, rather enacting broad public health measures that went against the original text of the act. They reasoned that “permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life – simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock – would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.” The Court drew a distinction between occupational hazards and risks that occur in the workplace, explaining that COVID-19 is not an occupational hazard that OSHA has the power to regulate. For example, COVID-19 is a universal risk that is present everywhere that people choose to gather, not just in the work-place setting. That is the difference between occupational risks and risks in general.

By contrast, the justices writing for the dissent argued that the OSHA mandate was within the agency’s mission to “protect employees from grave danger that comes from new hazards.” The dissenting justices noted that COVID-19 is a new hazard that poses a grave danger to millions of people, making the OSHA mandate “necessary” to address the dangerous situation. As a result, the dissent found that the majority ruling was at odds with the statutory scheme.

The biggest issue that the case raises surrounds the institutional competence to address the health care crisis. The dissent stated that the underlying dispute “is a single, simple question: Who decides how much protection, and of what kind, American workers need from COVID-19?” The options are either an agency or the Court. While competing arguments exist on both sides, the reality is that the decision is now left up to each individual company. Companies must now weigh the pros and cons of instituting regulations or potentially losing staff. For example, United Airlines and Tyson foods have instituted their own mandates, but others have chosen to not take any action, such as Walmart, Amazon, and JPMorgan Chase.

The institutional competence issue is further shown in the majority opinion in Biden v. Missouri, which was a small win for the Biden administration because it allowed a limited mandate that required health care workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they worked at a facility that received federal funding. Differing significantly from the majority opinion concerning the OSHA mandate, the majority in Biden v. Missouri found that the secretary of health and human services mandate “fell within the authorities that Congress conferred upon him.” The statute that gives authority to the mandate states that the Secretary can make Medicaid and Medicare funds contingent on conditions that “the Secretary finds necessary in the interest of the health and safety of individuals who are furnished services.” Here, the majority found that this limited mandate was within congressional authorization because it ensures that providers are taking to steps to stop the spread of a dangerous virus.

These cases certainly illustrate the challenges that the pandemic has created in interpreting the authority conferred upon agencies by Congress, and what types of regulations go beyond these authorities. In light of the contrasting majority opinions, the institutional competence issue will continue until a consensus is reached on the proper authority of agencies to make vaccine regulations in the workplace.

CHHS Releases Winter 2022 Newsletter

CHHS is proud to release its Winter 2022 newsletter. In this edition, CHHS Founder and Director Michael Greenberger highlights our project work in pandemic response, cybersecurity, economic recovery and more.

CHHS Winter 2022 Newsletter

Be sure to check out our newsletter page for earlier editions: https://www.mdchhs.com/media/newsletters/

 

 

CHHS, University of Maryland Carey School of Law, Enter Historic Partnership with CYBERCOM Academic Network

CHHS, along with the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, is proud to partner with U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM)i n a nationwide effort to meet cyberspace educational and workforce needs. Maryland Carey Law is the first law school to take part in CYBERCOM’s Academic Engagement Network (AEN), a program designed to create a robust and accessible pool of qualified cyber professionals.

The law school was chosen in large part because of the its well-established cyber law program, developed and lead by CHHS Founder and Director Michael Greenberger, and CHHS Cybersecurity Program Director Markus Rauschecker.

For more information on the partnership, click here.